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Posted on Saturday, November 30, 2013 by


Artists’ impression of OCEAN COUNTESS in Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ livery. Courtesy CMV.

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Majestic International’s MV OCEAN COUNTESS, completed in 1976 as CUNARD COUNTESS, is currently ablaze at Chalkis, where she has been laid up since her most recent charter to U.K.-based Cruise and Maritime Voyages. The ship was scheduled to return to cruise service in 2014 but this now looks unlikely as aerial video footage shows her superstructure fully engulfed in flames.

The 17,593 gt vessel operated for Cunard from 1976 through 1996 until sold to Awani Cruises to operate in Indonesian waters as the AWANI DREAM II. In 1998, she was sold to Royal Olympic Cruises and renamed OLYMPIC COUNTESS. When ROC shut down in 2004, the ship was sold to Majestic International and renamed OCEAN COUNTESS, operating under charter to various entities, from Louis (taking on the name RUBY for the 2007 season to replace SEA DIAMOND) to Monarch Classic, Quail and Cruise and Maritime Voyages.

The cause of the fire is thus far not known but the damage appears to be extensive. Five workers were safely evacuated from the ship. More as the story unfolds.

27 Responses to OCEAN COUNTESS On Fire

  1. Deborah L. D'Ambrosi

    November 30, 2013 at 11:57 am

    She was my second cruise for 7 days not long after our trip on the SONG OF NORWAY, how terrible now to read about this. :( :( I’m sure you have photos of OCEAN COUNTESS’ interiors too.

  2. Margaret Davies

    November 30, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I worked on this ship in 1999 and 2000 when she was the Olympic Countess owned by Royal Olympic Cruises. She was a beautiful ship and I had 2 wonderful summer seasons of 7 Day Cruises in the Aegean Sea on board. Many happy memories

  3. Avery Boyer

    November 30, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    For the morbidly curious, here’s a short video:


    Sad sight, and although the damage does seem more confined than I expected in this video it’s extensive enough that I doubt she will ever return to service.

  4. steven taylor

    December 1, 2013 at 12:47 am

    I am not surprised to read this article, I’m awaiting the same fate for the QE2 & the Kungsholm (sea princess/Victoria/mona Lisa) all very suspicious, and all to familiar these days with beautiful old ships.

    Discuss !

  5. Sabrina Tsimonidis

    December 1, 2013 at 1:29 am

    Poor Countess!!! She was one of my favorite ships that I worked on! Didn’t deserve to have such a fate!

  6. Kenneth Eden

    December 1, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Oh how modern she and her sister CUNARD PRINCESS were when they entered service. So unlike the Cunard image that was familiar, so very unlike the QUEEN ELIZABETH 2, and not as flimsy feeling as the CUNARD AMBASSADOR ( can’t speak for the ADVENTURER, having never sailed her).

    I loved the CUNARD COUNTESS for several reasons, one being higher on my list, the crew members, mainly in the bars, that Cunard family, having served for years on former Cunarder’s, and they shared their memories, after all, these dedicated men had made Cunard ships their life and home for years.

    I remember the main lounge, ballroom as they were back then, having a black marble or granite dance floor, probably 18″ squares, inset in brass, and the popular color scheme in the day, acid green and violet. She, the COUNTESS, was the first ship for me with hot tubs. What a familiar and welcoming site she was in the Caribbean, a real fixture at Yacht Haven and Barbados.

    I doubt much can be done to save her after this fire, and she will probably have whatever is left sell for scrap. My she had a long life, much long than one would have ever thought when she was brand new.

  7. Heinu Schütte

    December 1, 2013 at 8:48 am

    What a tragedy!

    More photos here:

    Sister (Golden Iris) and fleet mate (Ocean Majesty) are there to say goodbye.

  8. David Trevor-Jones

    December 1, 2013 at 10:34 am

    Some Ocean Liner Society friends and I took a short trip on Ocean Countess early in her charter to C&MV. They were extremely proud of her. Lloyd Cross, at that time C&MV’s sales or marketing Director I think, was on board and explained to me that he’d ensured the meticulous preservation of all of the surviving reminders of her Cunard past during her refit before entering C&MV’s service. I admired a pair of Cunard lions that had clung on to the insides of the glass doors to the Lido Cafe. He also pointed out the new teak decking that C&MV had paid for. The ship was in tip top condition and I really, really liked her a lot. I was hoping to take a longer cruise on her when suddenly she was dropped from C&MV’s itineraries in favour of Discovery. Since then it has been all change within C&MV. So sad to see the end of any ship one has known and liked, but now I fear that we are seeing the beginning of the end of smaller, friendlier ‘real’ ships in the affordable market. Long live C&MV.

  9. Richard Weiss

    December 2, 2013 at 5:20 am

    I surely have fond memories and lots of photographs of a wonderful time on the ship. I especially recall one evening when it was announced we were about to pass the QE2 in the opposite direction. What a magnificent sight that was with the ship all brightly lit! What was such an odd coincidence about this was how at that moment I happened to be wearing a QE2 shirt. I seriously miss ships with large expanses of after decks and their ranks diminish every year.

    Far as I know this is exactly what happened to the Cunard Ambassador but I seriously doubt this ship will be rebuilt to carry cattle but given her age and how many ships have been sold for scrap that did not have this kind of devastation I am not expecting a happy ending for her.

  10. Michael Arnold

    December 2, 2013 at 5:25 pm

    Sad state for this great ship. But there is light at the end of the tunnel hopefully for her. She will return happy thoughts.
    Mike “Olaf” Arnold

  11. Naomi Vichich

    December 2, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    I am so sad to hear this news. We just got home from our 13th cruise, and while on this cruise I found myself wondering whatever happened to the very first cruise ship I was ever on, the Cunard Countess in 1978. I googles the ship and found this information about the fire and can’t believe it. I knew she was still sailing under various owners and names but did not expect to hear about a fire. It’s funny that the ship wss on fire at abiut the exact time my husband and I were discussing her while on the RCCL Brilliance. We’ll aways have a special spot in our hearts for the Countess. My mom and dad had been on that ship just months before she died, so it was her last cruise, and a few months later we took the same cruise while I was 6 months pregnant so it was my first cruise.

  12. kevin annesley

    December 4, 2013 at 6:35 am

    just a few words to say how the countess was the best ship i cruised with back in march 1992 it was a fantastic ship and all the crew were brill i remember a few crew members such as maria kay. chief engigeer. i remember getting dress up in a ladies dress it was so funny and it will be with me till i die i will always remeber the countess
    your kevin annesley

  13. Tirun Travel Marketing

    December 5, 2013 at 2:15 am

    Ocean Countess was fantastic ship. It is so sad news

  14. Michael.flynn

    December 6, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Spent 10 nights on this ship and had a great time I have been tracking it since and was sad to hear it went up in smoke.a pity as the staff were great it blew up rough in the bay of biscay but the ship just glided through it I still have a mind your step sign that was sliding along the deck,,yeah happy memories I hope the discovery is as good as the countess was.those warm nights in Lisbon I spend now is down to the countess and have been over the bridge lots of times since I steamed in under it …yeah sad news

  15. Patrick Le Bihan

    December 8, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Any news since end of November??

  16. Kenneth Eden

    December 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    Thank you for sharing those pictures, Heinu.

  17. Terry McKenna

    December 16, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Are there any pictures available of the wreak of Ocean Countess?

  18. Kari Reinikainen

    December 30, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Sailed on this ship in its CMV days and witnessed a major failure of piping that resulted in water damage in cabins over three decks on the starboard side of the hull, near the bow. With dining room amidships, it had an awkward , ferry like layout and it was very high density and partly quite tired too. However, even then it did a good job by helping to launch the CMV operation, which has expanded quite bit since those days.

  19. Greg Gevas

    January 1, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    I was wondering too if there are any current photos of the OC?

  20. Heinu Schütte

    January 4, 2014 at 2:26 am

    I have only found these two photos:

    I doubt we will ever see what is left of the interior.

  21. Avery Boyer

    January 4, 2014 at 11:14 am


    She will not sail again. It looks like she’s fully gutted, funnel to waterline. Very sad sight.

  22. Deborah L. D'Ambrosi

    February 8, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Hi Richard Weiss, do you have interior photos of her available for all to see?

  23. Derek Finlayson

    March 11, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Ocean Countess left Chalkis under tow for Aliaga on 07 Mar 2014.


  24. Hank

    March 11, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    This is sad. I kind of liked ocean countess. I wish I could have taken a cruise on her, but it costs so much money to fly to your embarkation point. I suppose it also is another reason this ship is going to the breakers (it’s been a while since I’ve read the article, so I make that statement a little blindly as it might have been a total loss). Eventually we will be left with only the preserved ocean liners and the mega ships like Carnival. I’ve never like the interior designs or exterior designs (save second hand tonnage Mardi Gras, Carnival, and Festival). However, I’m glad we have passenger ships of any kind. Of course, whenever my next cruise is, I’ll take Cunard, Louis, or Portuscale. Carnival will be something ill push off for the rest of my life.

  25. Hank

    March 11, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Thankfully, the former CUNARD PRINCESS is still around. Hopefully I’ll get to see her or sail her before her eventual retirement (may she sail on for many more years). Of course, now I’m dreaming. :D

  26. Kenneth Eden

    March 12, 2014 at 5:25 am

    Hi Hank

    Here is an old bit of ship fodder that if you may not have already researched this one out you may find it quite interesting.

    Back in the mid or later 1970’s Carnival was still buying old tonnage and refinishing them, this one was the S.A.VAAL, which became the MS FESTIVALE. This is a ship that was a real big deal back then, and is mostly forgotten today.

    I remember her docked in Caribbean ports, and remember her long, long pointed bow.

  27. Hank

    April 1, 2014 at 5:14 am

    I love the S.A. Vaal! It’s one of my favorite Union-Castle ships!

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